Fresno Mayor Ashley Swearengin at Thursday's City Council meeting kicked off an effort to make City Hall a happier place for business to do business.
Council members were encouraging, yet cautious. Fresno, they said, has heard such promises before.
On the surface, Swearengin came to the council with just one thing in mind.
As she promised last summer, the mayor has created an initiative called "Business Friendly Fresno."
Business owners for decades have criticized City Hall for what they view as its slow, arcane and expensive development-approval bureaucracy. Business Friendly Fresno is to reform things.
Swearengin has put together a task force that includes herself, key city department heads and local leaders in the business arena. With chairman Pete Weber at the helm, the group will seek fixes.
Swearengin on Thursday was looking for two council members to join her team. Council Members Clint Olivier and Steve Brandau volunteered, and got their colleagues' approval.
The goal, Swearengin said, is to make Fresno "well known around California and the nation as one of the best cities for expanding business opportunities, creating diverse, high-paying employment opportunities and competitive returns on private investment, and offering a desirable and attractive quality of life."
But Swearengin had more in mind than just filling her lineup card. She wanted to trumpet a new attitude at City Hall and hint at how Business Friendly Fresno fits into her bigger plan to jolt the city's economy to life.
Swearengin said the task force will meet for six months. Recommendations could be in front of the council by March, she said.
The task force's work is just one of 10 economy-boosting efforts she has in motion, Swearengin said. She expects to return to the council next month to explain how everything will fit together.
Some are no secret. A 2035 general plan update with its focus on infill development is nearing its end. The mayor is part of a high-powered task force looking for ways to finance the infill development. A speedier bus service proposed for several major streets aims to make downtown a more popular destination.
The work of the Business Friendly Fresno task force "is a very important component" to this bigger vision, Swearengin said.
In other action, the council:
<sc120,116> Postponed until Oct. 31 the consideration of proposed regulations for farming and community gardens.
<sc120,116> Approved a three-year deal for $694,288.92 with California Industrial Services of Fresno to provide security at some city facilities. These sites include City Hall and the municipal service center. The deal has two one-year options.
<sc120,116> Postponed for two weeks the review of proposed policies for cell phone towers.